Bugs Without Bios XI

This week, The BugLady introduces some insects that, while not totally unsung, still have a pretty low profile.

A Bundle of Beetles

SCHIZOTIS CERVICOLIS has no common name (for no earthly reason that the BugLady could discern, one site calls it the “Flaming-pillow beetle,” but she’s not dignifying that one). It’s a Fire-colored beetle, family Pyrochroidae (because many species in the family have red or orange body parts). Male pyrochroids often have fancy antennae. The BugLady photographed it as it bobbed up and down on a stem in a wetland on a breezy day in late spring. Like the coreopsis beetle above, it resides across northern half of North America.

Predaceous Diving Beetle revisited

The BugLady has been busy, so here’s an enhanced version of an episode that appeared in 2009. New facts, new pictures.

Beetles have been around for 225 million years, plus or minus, and more than a quarter of all species of living things that have been described are beetles. They outnumber vertebrate species 18 to 1 and there are 24,000 beetle species in North America alone.

Goldenrod Watch – Act II

The goldenrods in the BugLady’s field are exuberant, with new, brilliant yellow flowers opening daily. Goldenrod blooms late, produces a bonanza of pollen (there’s not much nectar there), and is the embodiment of the insect enthusiast’s credo—“Looking for insects? Check the flowers.”

Way Out on the Lonesome Prairie

Lately, The BugLady’s been thinking about prairies. She led a walk at Riveredge Nature Center’s excellent “Knee Deep in Prairies” celebration, and she spends a lot of quality time on the prairie because she loves its ever-changing palettes and patterns. By some estimates, the biomass of the insects on pre-settlement American prairies equaled that of the bison. Here are some pollinators and predators and plant feeders of the prairie – and the flowers they visit.

Technicolor Thoughts

With a lower case “t,” technicolor refers to something that is vividly colorful. But long before the creation of color motion pictures, nature has been demonstrating the word’s meaning. Especially when it comes to bugs!

Wildflower Watch II – Regarding Wild Geraniums

If the first rule of looking for insects is “check the flowers,” then wild geraniums(Geranium maculatum) are the flower to watch right now. Insects perceive UV light differently than we do, and the transparent veins that lead them across the petals to the payload at the center of the flower (they’re called “nectar guides”) are far more conspicuous to them.

Bugs without Bios IX

Another celebration of insects that are not good enough nor bad enough nor beautiful enough nor bizarre enough to have fan clubs, or common names, or even much of a biography.

Ephemeral Pond Critters Revisited

The wonder of ephemeral pools is that they are populated by animals that take this annual disappearing act in stride—animals that are prepared to dry up with the pond or to get out of Dodge (timing is everything), and therein lie many tales. An astonishing array of animals use ephemeral ponds as a place to drink, hunt, and breed, but an ephemeral pond is a challenging place to call home. The still, shallow water warms quickly (which encourages speedy metamorphoses) but contains little oxygen.

Asparagus Beetles (Family Chrysomelidae)

Two species grace our area, the Asparagus/Common Asparagus Beetle and the Spotted/12-spotted Asparagus Beetle. Both species overwinter as adults in hollow asparagus stems, or under leaf litter, garden debris, or loose bark, The Common Asparagus Beetle is the first to wake up, and it also feeds on the lacy leaves, which can defoliate and weaken the plant. It lays its eggs in rows of 3 to 8 on the new spears, leaves or flower buds. The 12-spotted emerges a little later in spring, and it also eats the spears and leaves, but its larvae concentrate on the fruits and don’t damage the plant. It lays one egg at a time on the leaves; the larvae hatch, head for the fruits, and burrow inside.